Before You Start
If you don’t already have an established podcast, the first step is to take stock of your goals. What style of podcast are you hoping to start? The most popular formats are:
- Interview podcasts
- Conversations between two or more hosts
- Solo shows
- Narrative podcasts (like audio dramas and documentaries)
Each niche will have different needs and priorities. For instance, interview podcasters will prioritize video conference software that facilitates easy remote podcast interviews. Narrative podcasts with advanced production will require advanced editing and mixing capabilities.
Understanding the needs of your podcasting niche (not to mention your personal goals) will determine your setup, equipment needs, and necessary software features — so it’s essential to get that straight before you do anything else.
In this post, we’re focusing primarily on the needs of remote interview podcasts, but the basics of quality remote recording techniques can be applied to most podcast formats.
Podcast Equipment Checklist
Your setup (and your guest’s) should be carefully calibrated to match your goals. Make sure you invest in the right materials and equipment to get as close to studio-quality results as possible.
Your Own Setup
First, invest in a microphone. Though it can be tempting to rely on the built-in equipment in your computer, avoid it at all costs. Using built-in microphones can be one of your biggest mistakes.
If you’re on a tight budget or just want a mic that doesn’t have a huge learning curve, consider one of these plug-and-play USB microphones:
Also, you’ll want to get a pop filter to cut down on distracting “p” and “b” sounds that become accentuated when you speak into a microphone.
Next, make sure to use headphones when you record. It can be anywhere from the earbuds you regularly use, to dedicated high-tech headphones like the popular Audio Technica ATH-M50x.
Using headphones is important because they prevent your mic from picking up feedback when you record, not to mention that they give you a bit more awareness and control over the sound of the recording (especially if you’re using noise-canceling headphones).
You’ll also need to decide on a camera for your recording because the odds are good that you’ll want to use video in some way.
Many podcasters using Riverside.fm appreciate that the software allows hosts recording remotely to see each other, even if they don’t publish the video portion of the recording. Other podcasters take advantage of video podcasting to publish on platforms like YouTube or divide the video into bite-sized, sharable promotions for social media.
Regardless of how you use your video, you’ll probably either want an external webcam (like the Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920, Logitech C922) or a handheld camcorder (like the Sony HDR-CX405/B, Panasonic HC-V770K Full HD Camcorder, or Canon VIXIA HF R800).
For your podcast studio setup, make sure that you choose a quiet space away from distractions and background noises. Try to choose a carpeted room if possible, since carpet can dampen any echoes.
And while you don’t necessarily need to soundproof your room professionally, consider investing in a reflection filter that fits around your microphone and helps give it an echo-free, studio-quality sound level.
Related article: The Essential Podcast Equipment Checklist for Every Budget
Your Guest’s Setup
For best results, your guest needs the same types of equipment that you do. If they don’t have one, you may want to send your guest a mic. That way, you ensure they have what they need.
Be sure to choose an easy mic to get started with (such as one of the plug-and-play USB options listed above) so that you won’t need to spend several awkward minutes at the start of your session talking to your less-tech-savvy guests through a mic setup.
Your guest should also be using headphones. As mentioned above, headphones (regardless of their quality) will cut down on echoes and interference being picked up with their side of the conversation.
And if they don’t have a microphone or you’re in a pinch, encourage them to use their standard earbuds with a built-in mic; that’ll still be miles better than settling for their laptop’s built-in microphone.
Encourage your guest to set up an audio-friendly environment. Be sure to suggest a few of the following:
- Ask them to find a quiet space to record, away from sound and interruptions. The space should be carpeted — and have plenty of soft furniture, if possible — to minimize echoes.
- Encourage your guest to avoid noises like a fan, air conditioning unit, or loud appliances running nearby.
- Ask them to silence their phone and close extra browser tabs to minimize surprise notifications.
- Remind them to speak clearly into the mic before you get started, and don’t be afraid to remind them as needed during the interview. Better to edit out those reminders than to force your listeners to suffer through indiscernible audio.
Podcast Recording Software
Choosing software for your podcast recording depends greatly on your individual needs, especially whether you want audio-only or both audio and video. We’ll look at each scenario separately below.
How to Record Audio Podcasts Remotely
Since podcasts are primarily an audio experience, high-quality audio is of utmost importance.
WAV vs Mp3 files
When you create an audio file, your software will either use mp3 or WAV format. Mp3 files are compressed for efficient storage space, meaning some of the audio is lost to make room. The goal of the mp3 format is to create CD-quality audio at a much smaller download size.
A WAV file is a raw audio format that is “lossless,” meaning no audio is discarded and no quality is lost from the original recording. A recording solution should provide WAV files for the highest quality recordings.
Related article: WAV vs MP3: What's the Difference & Which Is Better for Podcasters
What about the recording technique?
For the highest audio quality, double-ender recording is absolutely the way to go for your podcast episodes. With this method, each end of the conversation is recorded locally on the participant’s computer, then each track is compiled into a final product. This technique helps preserve the sound quality of both sides of the conversation.
The traditional downside of recording locally was that you could be stuck stitching together, editing, and mixing the final product yourself. You’d also have to trust that your host was experienced enough to record their end correctly.
Fortunately, Riverside.fm has a great solution for this problem since our software now handles the technical side for you.
Riverside.fm records each participant’s audio and video locally in studio quality. Each track is saved along with a final mix. And when you invite a co-host or guest, all they need to do is click a button to join the call — and what’s better, since the tracks are recorded locally, they won’t be affected by drops in internet connection.
Whatever software you choose for your audio podcast recording, be sure to look for whether it allows for video (conferencing and/or recording), the quality of the sound, and how easy it will be for your guests to use.
How to Record Video Podcasts Remotely
If capturing video is important to you, there are currently even fewer software options available to choose from than for audio-only podcasts.
Although Skype has been around longer, Zoom has skyrocketed into the public consciousness since the pandemic caused video-conferencing to become the default replacement for in-person meetings. Both platforms offer video conferencing and can be used to record video podcasts, but the general consensus is that Skype’s sound quality and connectivity can’t match up to Zoom’s.
Some podcasters use Zoom to record remote interviews because they’re already familiar with the platform and it can be easy to use. You can also send a link for your guest to join with a single click — without installing Zoom. The application stores the video session in downloadable M4a (audio) or MP4 (video) files.
If you’re just starting out and your budget is tight, Zoom is free for up to 40 minutes of recording time for conversations with three or more participants. However, Zoom podcast recordings aren’t the highest quality, and Zoom isn’t known for having the most reliable connectivity — which is why most serious podcasters opt for more specialized software.
To get around the poor connectivity and sound quality of Zoom recordings (and if you’re willing to ask your guest to do a bit of work), you and your guest could always record separate local recordings of your audio on each end. Then in the editing process, you can stitch both feeds together to line up with the video feed Zoom provided.
Riverside.fm is another option that gives you studio-quality, locally-recorded audio and video files that don’t depend on your internet connection. We’ve already covered some of its pluses as an audio podcast software, but those same things apply if you’re planning to record a video podcast as well.
Unlike some of the other software options out there, Riverside.fm was designed by and for podcasters. It is meant to meet all the needs of a podcaster in 2021, including:
- High-quality audio and video for up to eight participants at a time
- Easy interface to use right in your Chrome browser
- The ability to take live calls
- Live streaming to your favorite social media platform of choice
Still not sure which recording solution to choose?
- Read about the differences between Zoom and Riverside.fm
- Read about the differences between Skype and Riverside.fm
Before You Press Record
When preparing to record your first remote podcast, double-check your surroundings. Do a test of all equipment. Ensure your phones are set to silent, distractions are minimal, and extra browser tabs are closed.
And regardless of the software you choose, it’s always a good idea to make a backup recording just in case — especially if you’re just getting used to a new setup.
When you’re finished recording, your work isn’t done quite yet. You’ll need to put the finishing touches on your remote podcast.
Podcast editing includes adding an intro or outro, cutting portions of an interview (including out “ums” and coughs), and adding music. You may also need to cut the episode down to a manageable size.
There are many software options available for both audio and video editing.
You can use Audacity for free. However, it can take a bit of time to learn the ropes.
When it comes to video editing, Adobe Premiere Pro is the industry standard, with the ability to edit 4K video and beyond with its nonlinear approach. Or you can try Apple’s professional alternative to iMovie, Final Cut Pro X, which has a steep learning curve but brings powerful tools to your fingertips.
Related article: Podcast Editing Software: Which One To Choose In 2021
At Riverside, we recently launched our Magic Editor: Automate your post-production process with a couple of button clicks.
Our Recording Process
As more podcasters move to remote recording, the increasing standards for quality recordings demand that no matter how you record, your results need to stand up to the highest scrutiny. That’s why our process for recording remote podcasts in 2021 focuses on a quality studio setup, the best software, and a sophisticated editing method.
We use a USB mic to maximize ease with audio quality, paired with noise-canceling headphones. When podcasting from home, we always record in a carpeted spare bedroom with distractions and sounds minimized — and we encourage guests to do the same. We use a thorough script to avoid needing to do lots of edits, but when they’re necessary, we use Adobe Premiere Pro for any tweaks.
And we use Riverside.fm as podcast recording software to create high-quality, locally-recorded audio and video tracks.